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Campus website outage cause still unknown

OCIO hosts multiple OSU websites that were affected by an outage Monday morning.

Some people’s weeks got off to a shaky start when they were unable to access several Ohio State websites, but the outage didn’t cause too much of a problem for others.
Monday morning, several OSU websites were down and OSU officials still aren’t sure why.
“Technical teams go through a really diligent process to look at all the pieces of the puzzle to determine what went wrong.” said Katharine Keune, communications director for the Office of the Chief Information Officer.
The websites that were down Monday morning, including WOSU’s website, BuckeyeLink, wexarts.org, osumarion.osu.edu and cartoons.osu.edu, are all centrally hosted by the OCIO.
Although the OCIO issued an outage report just before 9 a.m., some outages were reported as early as about 6 a.m. Keune said the affected sites were all up and running again by about 10 a.m., some sooner.
BuckeyeLink was up again by 9:30 a.m., leaving just enough time to cause problems for some students whose scheduling windows opened Monday morning.
“BuckeyeLink didn’t work for me. I was at the library at about 8:15 trying to schedule. I couldn’t get on to my student center,” said Kyle Mathews, a third-year in history. “I knew it was the website’s problem because I kept getting an internal error message.”
And just as the OCIO has yet to determine a cause, Mathews has yet to discover the ramifications of the outage.
“I don’t know if the problem will affect my scheduling because I haven’t gotten back on yet,” Mathews said Monday afternoon.
But there were other students the outage didn’t even touch.
“I didn’t have a problem, I was a work at that time and didn’t need to access the system,” said Rebecca Shuman, a first-year grad student in educational policy and leadership. “I haven’t had any problems with it today.”
Keune said the standard investigation to discover the cause would take a day or two, at least, and until then she didn’t want to speculate about what happened.
“You don’t want to wonder what it is, you want to dig in and find out what it really is,” she said.
The OCIO responded quickly, Keune said, and held a meeting at 9:30 a.m. Monday to discuss what went wrong.
“We’re still working on the root cause,” Keune said. “Our primary concern was making sure everybody got up to full service.”
Karen Simonian, director of media and public relations for the Wexner Center of the Arts, said the outage was “a hiccup.”
“We always like to be accessible to potential visitors or any interested parties,” she said. “It would be a bigger deal if it were down for days.”
Simonian said although the outage was inconvenient, it didn’t cause that many problems.
“It was unfortunate, but we’re back up,” she said.
Nick Houser, digital media director at WOSU, said its website was down from about 6 a.m. to about 9:50 a.m. During that time, web users weren’t able to access news or the television shows on WOSU’s website, nor a slew of other services the media outlet provides. But Houser said WOSU’s situation was similar to the Wexner Center’s in that not a lot of problems were experienced.
“We weren’t able to provide online news coverage for a while, and other than that we weren’t impacted a whole lot,” he said. “Fortunately streaming audio was still available through third parties like NPR’s website and mobile apps.”
Houser said he was surprised to not receive any complaints during the outage. The site came back on just before WOSU’s show “All Sides with Ann Fisher” aired Monday, which is typically when the organization receives its most website traffic, Houser said.
Keune said that when a primary service like BuckeyeLink goes down, that is referred to as a Priority 1 Incident.
“(May 2010) was the last time that BuckeyeLink was down for any substantive period of time that resulted in a Priority 1 Incident,” she said.
Although Keune said major outages like Monday morning’s aren’t common at OSU, Houser said he thought it was the frequency of similar incidents that made web users so forgiving.
“Web outages occur all the time. It’s just something I think web users are kind of used to seeing sometimes,” Houser said. “Web users are pretty I think forgiving of the outages … almost like construction on the road way.”

Jenelle Cooper contributed to this story.

 

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